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Titles of BookExpo 2017: Fiction Edition

Last week, I shared a pretty epic-length posted that featured the nonfiction that caught my eye at BookExpo 2017 in New York. This week, I wanted to highlight some of the fiction that I got excited about at the conference.

As you might expect, the pile of fiction I brought home is lot smaller than my pile of nonfiction. I think that tends to happen because I don’t actively look for many titles — I found most of these by happenstance while wandering the floor — and the lines for the most buzzy novels get really long. For someone as line-averse as me, this is usually a deal-breaker. But, I do like to note the titles that publicists and readers are excited about, so I included a few of those in this post as well.

August 2017

When Alice (a fellow Book Riot contributor, blogger at Reading Rambo, and my walk-the-floor buddy for the show) and I visited the Bloomsbury USA booth, The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (Aug. 1) was one of the books a publicist was able to hand sell us really effectively. Set in Peru in 1859, the book is an explorer’s tale filled with magic and danger. It seems fun!

 

 

 

September 2017

I managed to snag a copy of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Sept. 5 from Scribner) totally by chance — I was going by the Scribner booth for a different giveaway, and they just happened to have extra copies of this one leftover from a signing the day before. Score!

Null States by Malka Older (Sept. 19 from Tor) is actually the second book in a trilogy (I think?) called The Centenal Cycle. The first book, Infomocracy, came out in 2016 and is described as a “cyberpunk political thriller.” We’ll see!

One book I wish I’d picked up but didn’t was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Sept. 12 from Penguin Press). The line for this one was incredibly long, which I hope bodes well for it being as good as her first novel, Everything I Never Told You.

October 2017

Little Brown had a really smart idea, giving away a galley of Righteous by Joe Ide (Oct. 17, 2017) packaged with the text of the first book in the series, IQ, which came out in 2016. IQ is the story of an East Long Beach resident who uses his smarts to help assist the LAPD solve cases. I’m excited to dive into this pair, maybe during a beach vacation later this summer.

A second buzzy fiction book I didn’t have the patience to stand in line for was Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Oct. 3 from Scribner). I have no idea what this one is about, but A Visit From the Goon Squad was so good I’ll pretty much read anything she writes.

December 2017

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak (Dec. 5 from Bloomsbury USA) is another book I picked up based on a really good publicist pitch. The book is set during one evening in contemporary Istanbul, but goes back and forth in time to explore the relationship between three young women and their university professor.

January 2018

The cover of Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (Jan. 16 from Lee Boudreaux Books) is just killer, isn’t it? This book sounded like a Handmaid’s Tale-esque story, set in a future America where abortion is illegal, in-vitro fertilization is banned and “the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo.” Scary stuff right now.

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin (Jan. 16 from Delacorte Press) is the story of screenwriter Frances Mario and actress Mary Pickford, set in Hollywood at the turn of the century. I grabbed this because I recognized Melaine Benjamin’s name from other novels I’ve seen really good reviews of — The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, in particular.

The final big fiction book I want to mention is The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Jan. 9 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons). I got to interview Benjamin for a freelance piece a couple years ago when her first book, The Anatomy of Dreams, came out, and I remember her mentioning a bit about this novel. She was really nice, and so I’m excited to see that her second novel is getting a lot of attention.

And that’s the end! I haven’t started any of these books yet, but a lot look like they’ll be good books to pick up this summer. I imagine The Bedlam Stacks will be on my list early, and I anticipate picking up Red Clocks well before the publication date in January.

What books from this epic are you most interested in? What should I start reading first?

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Life moves fast, doesn’t it? I feel like I just got home from BookExpo 2017 in New York City, but looking at my calendar I can see that it was almost two weeks ago — I guess that’s what traveling will do to you!

BookExpo, for those who aren’t familiar, is an annual conference for publishing industry professionals. This year BookExpo ran for two days, followed by BookCon, a more consumer-focused event marketed as a “Comic Con for book lovers.” I just stuck around for BookExpo this year. The conference includes panels, giveaways, author signings and other educational events for folks like librarians, bookstore owners, authors, agents, and book media.

I spent most of my two days at BookExpo wandering the floor alone or with Alice (a fellow Book Riot contributor and blogger at Reading Rambo). I enjoy walking the floor with a friend — it feels less intimidating to walk up to booths that way, and it’s fun to see what books grab another reader’s attention. Alice rounded up some of her favorites on her blog, and in a Book Riot post called BookExpo: Females Strong As Hell Edition.

The other two people I spent the most time with were my roommates, Sheila (Book Journey) and Candace (Beth Fish Reads). They are two of my favorite bloggers ever, and made me feel right at home crashing with them at their hotel. And we all missed my usual BookExpo roommate, Florinda (The 3Rs Blog), who was off gallivanting about Italy (#jealous).

Sheila highlighted a few of her top finds on her blog, and Candace has done a number of posts — her top five picks, books from small publishers, and books from big publishers. The best thing about clicking through to all of those links is that you’ll find a bunch of books that I didn’t even see — BookExpo is that big and that varied.

I decided to split up my main BookExpo coverage into two posts — my top nonfiction picks and my top fiction picks. Today’s post is all about the nonfiction that caught my eye and made its way home in my suitcase. (I also shared some titles in the most recent edition of my nonfiction newsletter for Book Riot, True Story, which you can sign up for at this link).

Out Now/Summer 2017

The very first book Alice and I scurried to find was Baking Powder Wars by Linda Civitello (University of Illinois Press) because who would not want to read a microhistory of “America’s essential main ingredient.” Similarly, Grocery by Michael Ruhlman (Harry N. Abrams), looks at America’s relationship with food and our local grocery stories.

One of the buzzier nonfiction titles of BookExpo was The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks), a story about the history of radium and a group of young women (mostly immigrants) who were killed by the chemical because of their work making glowing watches for the United States Army.

Another book I’m excited for is All Day by Liza Jessie Peterson (Center Street), a story about a poet who spent time teaching incarcerated youth at Rikers Island.

September 2017

I was excited to stumble upon Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi (Sept. 5 from St. Martin’s Press). Zomorodi is the host of WNYC Studio’s Note to Self podcast, one of my favorite podcasts on life and technology. This book looks at “the connection between boredom and original thinking.”

In 2014, game developer Zoe Quinn’s life was almost destroyed by online harassment as part of the #gamergate awfulness. In Crash Override (Sept. 5 from PublicAffairs), Quinn shares her experience and her work helping others through the Crash Override Network.

In Cuz (Sept. 5 from Liveright), Danielle Allen looks at mass incarceration through the story of her first cousin, who spent more than a decade in jail as a young man, then struggled to survive after he was released.

Another book I found while wandering was Ranger Games by Ben Blum (Sept. 12 from Doubleday). In this book, Blum investigates a crime involving his first cousin, a U.S. Army Ranger who, the day before it was set to deploy to Iraq, robbed a bank with two soldiers and two strangers. Blum looks the crime.

October 2017

I really loved Caitlin Doughty’s first book (a memoir of becoming an undertaker), so I was psyched to snag a copy of From Here to Eternity (Oct. 3 from W.W. Norton), a look at how cultures across the world care for their dead.

Kathleen Murray Moran lost her husband on Sept. 11, 1976, to a terrorists bomb at Grand Central Station. Life Detonated (Oct. 10 from Amberjack Publishing) is her story of young widowhood and resilience — this one got on my radar for obvious reasons, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

I love historical true crime, so of course I managed to bring home a copy of Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell (Oct. 10 from Liferight). The book revisits the murder of starlet Elizabeth Short in 1947, and provides a new account of this unsolved murder.

One of my not-so-secret obsession is cryptography, which also made me excited for Code Girls by Liza Mundy (Oct. 10 from Hachette Books), a look at the “hidden army of female cryptographers” who helped end World War II.

November 2017

Graywolf Press does great nonfiction, and Bunk by Kevin Young (Nov. 14 from Graywolf Press) looks like it won’t be an exception. Subtitled “The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News,” this one looks super timely.

I grabbed a copy of Supernormal by Megan Jay (Nov. 14 from Twelve) because I have been reading a lot on resilience this year. In the book, Jay “narrates the continuing saga that is resilience as it challenges us to consider whether — and how — good wins out in the end.”

And finally, I am excited about The Extra Woman by Joanna Scutts, “a cultural history of single women in the city” inspired by the life and work of Marjorie Hillis (Nov. 14 from Liveright).

Whew! That got really long really fast! Thanks for sticking with me through all of that. I’ll have another (much shorter) post with some of the fiction I picked up at BookExpo up soon.

What books from this epic are you most interested in? What should I start reading first?

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Unsurprisingly, being unemployed since the end of March has been really great for my reading life. I’ve read more in each of the last couple of months than I did through all of January, February and March, which feels amazing! I mean, the whole not working thing isn’t really sustainable in the long term, but for now I am just grateful to be getting my reading groove back.

April 2017

First up, the books I finished in April:

  1. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (young adult fiction)
  2. Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker (nonfiction)
  3. Hit Makers by Derek Thompson (nonfiction/audio book)
  4. Dark Money by Jane Meyer (nonfiction)
  5. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Gran (nonfiction)
  6. Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang (nonfiction)
  7. Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (fiction)
  8. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (nonfiction)
  9. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (fiction)

Wow, looking at that list is surprising — I didn’t realize how much nonfiction I read in April, and how many were good. I really liked Cork Dork and Killers of the Flower Moon, and got a lot to think about from Option B, Sandberg and Grant’s new book about grief, joy and resilience. Perfect Little World was also a great read, a fun look at family and community and rebuilding after calamity.

May 2017

And second, the books I finished in May:

  1. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (science fiction/fantasy)
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (fiction)
  3. The Art of Grace by Sarah L. Kaufman (nonfiction)
  4. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (fiction)
  5. In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib (fiction)
  6. The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan (mystery)
  7. My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows (young adult fiction)
  8. Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson (nonfiction)
  9. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (fiction)

Having a long weekend at our family cabin for Memorial Day helped me finish a lot of books, many that were outside my normal reading comfort zone. Both Since We Fell and The Unquiet Dead were fun mystery/thrillers, and My Lady Jane was a goofy young adult fantasy with magic and shape changing and royalty. The Little Paris Bookshop was also a good read, in an unexpected way.

A Look to June

On Monday, I spent most of the day cleaning and reorganizing all of my books — gotta make space for the new BookExpo titles and all the books I’ve been buying (whoops). But getting things in order made me so excited for all the books I’ve got to choose from… and also a little overwhelmed, so many choices.

Today I am heading out of town for a long weekend in Duluth (my last bit of travel for awhile), and so I’m trying to decide what books to bring. So far, I know I’ll be packing The Radium Girls by Kate Moore, a narrative nonfiction account of the horrors of radium, and Startup by Doree Shafrir, a novel about startup culture in Manhattan. They both sound like fun.

So, yay, summer reading on the North Shore and on the patio. I can’t wait. What books are you excited for this summer?

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Briefly | It’s early on a Tuesday morning, and I’m at home for a bit before heading out to BookExpo 2017 in New York. My flight leaves bright and early tomorrow, and I’ll be coming home late Saturday. I’ve been on the road a lot lately, first out to eastern Wisconsin, then to our family cabin for Memorial Day, and up to northern Minnesota next week. Life is busy when you’re unemployed (ha!).

Reading | Thanks to quiet time at the cabin, I got a ton of reading done while sitting by the lake (or, more often, inside the cabin looking at the lake because the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative). I finished three books — The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Canadian murder mystery, first in a series); My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows (goofy young adult fantasy/historical fiction about Jane Grey); and Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson (narrative nonfiction about a 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas).

I’m nearly finished with two more — The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (women’s fiction, a little out of my comfort zone but it came recommended), and One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Saachi Koul (hilarious essay collection about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants).

Watching | I’ve been on a bit of a Disney movies binge the last few weeks with Mulan, Hercules, and Moana. They’ve all been really good! My sister and I also got out to the movies a couple of times to see Everything, Everything (so dang charming I could hardly stand it) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (very, very funny).

Listening | Spotify’s Disney Hits playlist is pretty much the best, and I’m not even embarrassed to admit that.

Loving | Although I’m starting to feel some twinges of impatience, I am still enjoying my unemployment sabbatical. I’d like to start getting into more of a productive (but still relaxed) routine soon, but that’ll have to wait until later in June.

Hating | My weight has been slowly creeping up the last several months. It’s totally my fault — too many donuts, too little exercise — but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. “Eat Less Junk, Move More Often” is going to be my motto once I get back from NYC.

Anticipating | BookExpo 2017! I’m bummed that my usual roommate, Florinda of The 3R’s Blog, won’t be there this year — she’s off having the best time in Italy — but I’m excited to get to spend the conference with two of my other favorite bloggers, Shelia of Book Journey and Candace of Beth Fish Reads.

I feel totally unprepared for the conference — especially compared to Chicago last year — but I think that just gives me more flexibility to roam the floor and see what’s out there. No matter what, going to New York and nerding out about books will be fun. If you’re reading this and will be there, let me know so we can meet up!

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In real time, I’ve officially hit the halfway mark of my 100 Days of Books project over on Instagram! Fifty photos! Fifty little reviews! And fifty more to go before this wraps up on July 12.

I’m still having a lot of fun with the project, although the next couple of weeks are definitely going to be a challenge. It’s been fun to look over old blog posts and reviews to spark memories of books I read several years ago, and think about which books have stayed with me over that time. I just can’t think too hard about the fact that I have 50 more books to share, that seems overwhelming. But, one day and one book at a time.

21. Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

I can’t remember why I put Perfect Little World on my library hold list, but when it came in I couldn’t wait to read it. At 18, Isabel Poole is a high school graduate, pregnant with her art teacher’s baby, and getting ready to face the world alone. Dr. Preston Grind invites her to be part of The Infinite Family Project, a study to look at what would happen when ten children are raised collectively for a decade without initially knowing who their biological parents are. I loved the characters in this story, and I loved that I never really knew where the plot was going or where it might end up. Izzy’s experience resonated with me in some significant ways, and I found myself rooting for her and the other members of the project as I was swept along with the story.

22. Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

It seems appropriate to read and think about a book on the importance of rest during my sabbatical (unemployment) period. In Rest, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues that people, especially creative workers, need effective rest in order to be effective at work: “You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.” Pang looks at habits that can help stimulate creativity – shorter work hours, morning routines, walks, naps, focused stopping periods, and sleep – as well as ways to sustain creativity through recovery, exercise, play and sabbaticals. While his suggestions make the most sense for people with flexible work schedules, I thought it was an interesting exploration of how important it is to carve out time for rejuvenation even in hectic periods of life.

23. The City and the City by China Miéville

The cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma exist in the same physical space, but have completely different social and political lives. Citizens in one city must “unsee” and “unhear” citizens of the other or face dire consequences. When a young woman from one city is found murdered in the other, a police inspector named Tyador Borlu must solve a crime connected to a world of nationalist intrigue and political mythology. I loved the way China Miéville used the familiar narrative of a crime procedural to help ground readers within a completely fantastical premise, similar to how Inception used the plot of a heist to give viewers a foothold into that universe. I love this book, and need to read more from Miéville, ASAP.

24. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

I feel like I rave about The Rook all the time, but I haven’t posted about it for this project yet. So, The Rook is amazing! Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a field with no memory of who she is, just a letter with instructions she left for herself before her memory was erased. Myfanwy is a leader in a secret organization, the Checquy, charged with protecting the world from supernatural threats. But the organization is under attack, and Myfanwy needs to try and figure out what is happening. The best way I can describe this book is Ghostbusters meets James Bond meets Memento, if James Bond were a lady spy who is also a kickass administrative genius. It is just so much fun.

25. The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman

On a day when I am traveling, it seemed appropriate to highlight The Lunatic Express. In the book, journalist Carl Hoffman travels across the world taking the most dangerous conveyances he can find to see what it’s like to travel outside the developed world. The book could have been a journalistic stunt, but I thought Hoffman recognized his privilege and made an effort to show how dangerous buses, boats, trains, and planes affect the people who use them because they don’t have another choice. There’s something terrifying and appealing about Hoffman’s journey, and that combination creates a book about traveling to find adventure and about traveling to find yourself.

26. Hit Makers by Derek Thompson

What does it take for something – a work of art, a song, a video, a book – become popular? In Hit Makers, journalist Derek Thompson tries to answer this question, using a mix of popular science research and historical examples. He argues that nothing really “goes viral,” but instead follows a relatively predictable path based on audience exposure and surprise/familiarity. I appreciated the way he connected artistry to industry and showed how they affect one another. It was a really interesting listen.

27. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

I’m cheating a bit with today’s post because I am traveling and didn’t plan very well. I read Beautiful Ruins on a trip to Europe with my sister in 2015, and took this photo in Greece. This is what I wrote about it at the time: “Beautiful Ruins was the first book I actually finished on the trip and wow, was it basically perfect for vacation reading – readable prose, distinctive characters, and enough mystery to keep the pages turning amidst the distractions of travel. There’s some comedy in the book – especially the critique of Hollywood culture – but also a ton of heart. I totally loved it and I hope Jess Walters has more like this that I can read.”

28. Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis

Today’s book is a little bit of a throwback, Stefan Fatsis’ 2001 book Word Freak. Subtitled “Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players,” the book is a look at the people who make a living playing Scrabble and a peek into the history of Scrabble itself. Fatsis follows his own journey becoming a competitive Scrabble player, which was really fun to read about. At it’s best, Word Freak is a book about being passionate — about playing a game, achieving a goal, inventing something new, or just living life doing what makes you feel complete. It’s quirky and weird, but in the end who has passions that aren’t a little bit strange?

29. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I am not-so-secretly obsessed with the British royal family, and although I usually focus on nonfiction (biographies, contemporary reporting), I read The Royal We a few summers ago and really loved it. The Royal We is the story of American Rebecca “Bex” Porter, who meets and falls in love with Prince Nicholas, future king of England, while they’re students at Oxford. The book follows their relationship over a decade as they struggle with how to be “Nick and Bex” while also living up to the expectations the monarchy has for “Nicholas and Rebecca.” I loved that the book wasn’t focused on will-they-or-won’t-they and instead tried to explore more complicated questions about public and private lives and what it takes to build a sustainable relationship. Yes, the book is basically William and Kate fan fiction, but it was clearly well-researched and written from a place of intelligent curiosity. I had a lot of fun reading it.

30. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

After their daughter, Maribel, is injured in an accident, Arturo and Alma Rivera come to the United States hoping to secure a better future for her. In their new home, a run down apartment building in Delaware, Maribel meets her neighbor, Mayor Toro, and the two embark on a relationship that affects both of their families. This story is punctuated by asides from the other Latin American neighbors in the building, sharing how they came to be in the United States. I read The Book of Unknown Americans in a blur last spring, so I can’t remember many specifics, just the feeling of joy and sadness it left me with when I closed the last page.

And that’s a wrap for this installment. You can check out Days 1 through 10 and Days 11 through 20 on the blog, or follow me on Instagram for real-time updates. Cheers!

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